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Emily Carr

Catalogue Reviews
A handful of attractive recent exhibition catalogues, as well as archived catalogue reviews.

Feature


Peter Aspell, The Mad Perfumer

Peter Aspell, The Mad Perfumer (2002), oil on paper [Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond BC, Jan 23-Apr 3] Photo: Shane O’Brien

Peter Aspell: Saints and Sinners, Mystics and Madness

West Vancouver Museum
West Vancouver BC – Jan 13-Mar 26, 2016

Peter Aspell: The Mad Alchemist

Richmond Art Gallery
Richmond BC – Jan 23-Apr 3, 2016

Peter Aspell, The Bride

Peter Aspell, The Bride (2003), oil on canvas [Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond BC, Jan 23-Apr 3] Photo: Shane O’Brien

Peter Aspell, Man in the Herring Bone Suit

Peter Aspell, Man in the Herring Bone Suit (2002), oil on canvas [Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond BC, Jan 23-Apr 3] Photo: Shane O’Brien

Peter Aspell, Imprisoned Dwarf

Peter Aspell, Imprisoned Dwarf (1988), oil on canvas [Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond BC, Jan 23-Apr 3] Photo: Shane O’Brien

Born in Vancouver in 1918, Peter Aspell differed from his West Coast peers, such as Jack Shadbolt and Gordon Smith, in his pursuit of largely figurative rather than landscape-based art. His energetic paintings and drawings reveal the influence of early Modernists (think Fauvists and Expressionists), and also evince a particular fondness for the playful and unfettered imagery of Paul Klee. Aspell’s work also reflects his interest in the Jungian idea of the archetype.

Early on, he borrowed images and motifs from African, Egyptian and Northwest Coast art, again revealing the influence of the early Modernists in their references to the art of pre-industrial peoples. Later in his career, Aspell turned to satirical portraits of “types,” from popes and generals to clowns and industrialists. He also began to produce dystopian images of human-machine hybrids, culminating in his apocalyptic triptych, March of the Machines. Essentially, Aspell used archetypal, mythical and mechanical figures to symbolize the human condition and explore a range of emotions and experiences. His palette was equally wide ranging, varying from rich and vivid primaries to monochromatic combinations of black, white and grey.

This two-venue retrospective, covering the late 1980s to 2004 (the year of his death), seeks to redress the sense that Aspell’s art has been overlooked by public galleries and museums.

Robin Laurence


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